Texts purporting to be from parcel and delivery companies are the most prevalent form of ‘smishing’ scams, according to new data provided to UK Finance by cybersecurity firm Proofpoint.
The data showed that over two-thirds (67.4%) of all UK texts reported as spam to the NCSC’s 7726 text messaging system, operated by Proofpoint, during the 30 days to mid-July 2021, were supposedly from delivery companies. The next highest category of scam texts was those pretending to be financial institutions and banks (22.6%).
Over the 90 days to mid-July, the proportion of spam texts relating to parcel and package deliveries was lower, at 53.2%, while those purporting to be from financial institutions and banks were 36.8%.
As with other forms of phishing campaigns, smishing attacks have risen substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the crisis providing significant opportunities for scammers to lure consumers into clicking on malicious links and giving away personal data such as credit card details. One of these relates to the rise in online deliveries as a result of social distancing restrictions.
Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, commented: “Criminals are experts at impersonating a range of organizations and have capitalized on the pandemic, knowing that many of us will be ordering goods online and awaiting parcel deliveries at home.
“We are urging people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and to always stop and think whenever you get a text message out of the blue before parting with your information or money. Always avoid clicking on links in a text message in case it’s a scam and forward any suspected scam text messages to 7726, which spells SPAM on your telephone keypad so that the criminals responsible can be brought to justice.”
Sarah Lyons, NCSC deputy director for economy & society, said, “Scammers and cyber-criminals regularly exploit well-known, trusted brands for their own personal gain, and sadly these latest findings bear that out.
“We would encourage people to be vigilant to any suspicious-looking text messages, which should be forwarded to 7726. However, these scam messages can be very hard to spot, so if you think you’ve already responded to a scam, don’t panic. Whether you were contacted by text message, email or phone, there’s lots you can do to limit any harm. Visit www.cyberaware.gov.uk for more information on how to protect your online accounts and devices.”
Last week, consumer group Which? warned consumers to be aware of a new smishing scam impersonating international parcel delivery firm DPD, which requests the user to send a small fee to rearrange delivery of a parcel.